London / Brussels (dpa) – The British government does not want to give the EU representation in London the usual diplomatic status. As confirmed by the EU Foreign Service DPA, the delegates from Brussels should be treated as employees of an international organization.
Contrary to international custom, this would mean that they would not have the status of representatives of a sovereign state. This is relevant because an ambassador’s diplomatic rank determines, for example, which events he is invited to or where he is placed there. Such protocol questions are of great importance in diplomacy. The classification can thus be seen as a sign of contempt.
The Foreign Service therefore reacts with incomprehension to the British approach. While the UK was still a member of the EU, it supported EU delegations treated as nation-state representations, a spokesman said. The European Union is not a “typical” international organization. All current 143 EU representations have the status of diplomatic representatives of states.
The UK Foreign Office said EU diplomats would “be given the privileges and immunities they need to perform their jobs effectively in the UK”. A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said talks are ongoing. The goal is for diplomats to feel welcome in the country.
Former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned London to be careful. “We will see what the UK’s final decision on this matter will be. But you have to be careful, ”Barnier said during an online awards ceremony on Thursday. The Frenchman was named “European of the Year” by the Irish organization European Movement Ireland. He added, “It would be wise for Britain to come up with a sensible solution.”
British Tory MP and Chairman of the Defense Commission, Tobias Ellwood, criticized his administration’s decision as “just insignificant”. While the new US president has committed to strengthening alliances, Britain is mired in childish bickering. “We’re actually over it,” Ellwood said on Twitter.
The BBC quoted Thursday from a letter from Josep Borrell, EU foreign affairs representative to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. In it, he expressed “serious concern” about the London decision. The proposal for the status of the EU representation does not provide for the “customary privileges and immunities of the delegation and its staff”. Neither the special nature of the EU nor the future relationship between London and Brussels would be sufficiently recognized, according to Borrell, the report said. It is not a sensible basis for reaching an agreement.
Great Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020. At the turn of the year, the country also withdrew from the customs union and the internal market.
Recently, about two years ago, the US administration under President Donald Trump temporarily lowered the diplomatic status of the EU representation in Washington. However, after fierce protests from Brussels, she reversed the decision.